Hi! My name is Kelsey and I’m an alcoholic. I’ve been alcohol-free for one year and counting.
Roll back to a year ago when I was a co-owner of a brewery that myself and four business partners opened two years previous. I thought I was living the dream and was so lucky to have been chosen for this opportunity, but my role in our start-up was demanding. I managed 16 employees and the daily operations of our taproom, ran our marketing department, and supported our brand in the market. I spent all day thinking about beer, and even when I was away from the brewery my world still revolved around beer.
I was constantly tuned in and that made it very difficult to be involved in a brewery and not be an alcoholic. The offer to enjoy a libation is on the table no matter what time of day it is. We were starting our morning meetings with a stout, poured lagers for lunch, and ended our days with ales. The beers were irresistible, a compliment to our head brewer, no doubt, and one of the biggest perks of my chosen career but also an open invitation to use alcohol as an escape from the stressful reality of running a business.
The pressures of my day-to-day life were compounding at a rate I couldn’t mentally keep up with and it was turning me into an angry, self-involved person. I was self-destructing and allowed alcohol to be my comfort blanket, fueling my addiction instead of solving my problems. I knew this was unsustainable and was getting desperate for change, for something to give.
When I realized I was the only one who could control my life, I announced my resignation from a company that I helped build, stopped drinking while I was transitioning out, and began my recovery process. I knew leaving the industry was the only possible solution to rid myself of the constant temptation that accompanied my position. It was heartbreaking, though. I lost my sense of community I was deeply intertwined in and felt more alone than ever.
I spent the subsequent winter in the comforts of my living room healing from the damage I inflicted on my body after so many years of treating it improperly. My mind started to heal, and then my body. I noticed some small changes right away – I was jumping right out of bed in the morning, I had extra energy, and my emotions were stabilizing. Every few weeks I would notice something new that had changed – clearer skin, softer hair, more circulation through my legs – little things.
Spring came around and I emerged from my living room cocoon. My six-month anniversary of not consuming alcohol revealed even more health benefits than before. I made the switch to a different diet, focusing on whole foods, and eliminating food groups I thought were causing inflammation in my body (dairy, soy, sugar, processed foods, beef). That’s when I really started to see what my body’s potential was. I lost 40lbs in three months and a fog felt like it lifted from my brain. I got reacquainted with who I was without the influence of alcohol and started to feel normal for the first time in my adult life.
A clear mind and healthy body are completely underrated and I feel very grateful to have the opportunity to have mine back to nurture and respect. It has allowed me to understand myself and my needs on a different level, and how that impacts my relationships and surroundings. It is also the only reason that I find myself writing this from the comforts of our moveable home. If alcohol was still in charge of my body and mind, I would be tolerating the same way of life and not seeking change. Instead, I have a new-found freedom, which turned into the opportunity of a lifetime to travel, grow, and experience the world around me in a different light.
I may always be an alcoholic, constantly battling the strong desire to consume, but this gift of an alcohol-free life may well have one of the most important gifts I’ll ever give to myself. If you’re considering the switch to an alcohol-free life, I urge you to seek out solutions that will work for your life. As I found, the benefits far outweigh the detriments, it just takes one conscious decision to start you down a path filled with unexpected growth and change. I’m an alcoholic, but that will no longer define me.